Brazilian President party received money from FARC, say documents

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Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Brazil – Documents of the Brazilian Agency of intelligence (Abin) say that the Workers' Party received 5 million dollars to be used by political campaign of candidates in 2002 from the Colombian communist armed group Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC-EP). The information was reported by the Brazilian magazine Veja that circulates this week in a headline story called "FARC's tentacles in Brazil".

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According to the magazine, reporters had access to documents of Abin that described the liaisons between the Workers' Party (PT) and the Colombian guerrilla movement FARC.

The Workers' Party (PT) is the party of the Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. PT is one of the biggest left-wing parties in Latin America and at this moment the strongest and more organized party from Brazil. It is one of the political Brazilian parties that has the biggest and most active militancy.

Abin's main document, number 0095/3100 of April 25, 2002, says that a meeting occurred on April 13, 2002, in a farm near Brasilia. The meeting lasted about 6 hours, there were approximately 30 persons, among them the father Olivério Medina, one of the representatives of the FARC in Brazil, and members of PT. A disguised Abin's agent participated of this meeting and annoted everything.

According to the agent, during the meeting, father Medina announced that he would donate 5 million dollars for politicians' electoral campaign of his choice.

Abin agency has six documents that describe the liaisons between PT and the FARC. Among the six documents, 3 of them say explicitly that 5 million dollars donation for PT's candidates occurred. The money probably came from Trinidad and Tobago and went to 300 Brazilian businessmen who distributed the quantity among the party's committees.

Another document says that the Brazilian Congress employee and former-militant of the Brazilian Communist Party (PCdoB), Maria das Graças organized the meetings with FARC members. She is considered a personal friend of the FARC commander knows as Mauricio. Maria said: "I know him [the commander Mauricio] off course, and so what? I did not organize any meeting."

The militant Antonio Viana who was in the meeting said: "We have talked about everything, except money."

The Colombian Radio Caracol says that, according to a research done by the Colombian government, the FARC invests next to 476 million pesos per years in activities in foreign countries. The official FARC representatives for this work are: [1] Luis Alberto Albán, Ovidio Salinas, Ricardo Morantes, Jairo Alfonso Lesmes, father Oliverio Medina, Jesús Carvajalino and Liliana López. Father Olivério Medina is the name of who would be responsible for the intermediation between members of political parties in Brazil and the FARC.

Sometime ago, the Brazilian Deputy Alberto Fraga (PTB) knew about the Abin's investigation and denounced the scheme during a speech on the Brazilian Congress. In addition, he tried to open a commission to investigate the matter. Nevertheless he did not obtain support to open the commission. The PT deputy Luis Eduardo Grenhalg told him that he might be processed by government if he continued on commenting about the subject, says Fraga. Grenhalg says that he only suggested for Fraga not spreading informations that were not real.

The PSDB candidate José Serra tryed to talk about the FARC-PT liaison during the 2002 presidential campaign. However he was punished by the Electoral Court at that time.

President of Venezuela Hugo Chavez and President of Brasil Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. The both governments were criticized by their relationships with the FARC. (Photo:Marcello/ABr).

The Workers' Party (PT) released an official statement signed by the National President José Genoino repudiating the magazine's article and denying all presented facts. Part of the note tells:

The party neither supports, in the neighboring country, any solution for the long situation of belligerence lived by Colombians who are not based on a democratic agreement, pacific and constitutional. The PT has historical position against the terrorism of State or armed groups. In addiction, there are several evidences that the PT politics is marked by respect to the self-determination of peoples and the sovereignty of nations, by a politic of not mediation in internal subjects of each country from any origin. Therefore, we would not accept, in any hypothesis, that our political life suffered the interference from foreign governments or groups of any origin.

The note says that the article is irresponsible, that it comments on facts without any sustentable evidence. It still says that the magazine denies itself when later in the text it affirms that it did not find any solid indication to proof that 5 million dollars were really sent to PT by the FARC.

The note affirms that this kind of insinuation is not new and the party was already a victim of it before. It says that during the 2002 presidential campaign the candidate José Serra (PSDB) was punished because his denunce was empty. The documents commented by the magazine date of April 25, 2002, epoch in which the Brazilian president was Fernando Henrique Cardoso. At that time there were many spies searching and collecting, like snakes, for situations that could prevent the free desire of the Brazilian people to vote for the changes.

Some members of the National Congress are trying to begin a official investigation.

This is the second time, this year, that a South American government is criticized for alleged supporting relations with the FARC. Last month, Colombia and Venezuela almost entered in a war because of the arrestment of the alleged FARC's chancellor Rodrigo Granda. Colombia accused the government of Venezuela of giving protection and support to FARC's guerrillas. Venezuela accused Colombia of hurting his sovereignty. The two countries only entered an agreement after the intervention of the president of Cuba Fidel Castro.

Also this is the second time, in less than a month, that a political party from South America is accused of implication with the FARC. On February, Paraguayan authorities discovered Cecilia Cubas Gusinky's body, 31 years, daughter kidnapped of the former-president of Paraguay Raul Cubas in a hole, in Ñemby, 29 km from the capital Asuncion. Members of the party Pátria Livre were living in that place and they were considered to be the main suspects. Osmar Martínez, that belongs to the party, was arrested. According to the police, some time ago he had communicated by email with the FARC chancellor Rodrigo Granda. In a interview Martinez said that he supports a "brotherhood relation" with the FARC.

The presence of the FARC in Brazil

A note from the Workers' Party (PT), of February 16, 2002 called "The truth about Colombia and the FARC - and PT" tries to clarify the relationship between the party and the FARC. A portion of this note says that:

The Workers' Party doesn't have any ties with the Revolutionary Armed forces of Colombia (FARC). Together with hundred of left-wing parties and movements in Latin America (among PT, PSB, PPS and the Brazilian PDT), the FARC is part of Foro de São Paulo. In this Forum, coexist organizations of quite distinguished political and ideological profile. The Chilean Socialistic Party of President Ricardo Lagos, for example, took part of some meetings. All these organizations are not joined by any organic bond, since the Forum is, exactly, a forum of debate, and not a structure of political international coordination. In past, nevertheless, there were leaders' contacts between FARC and Brazilian politicians.

The note also criticizes the decision taken during the previous government, of Fernando Henrique Cardoso, which did not recognized the Colombian guerrillas of the FARC diplomatically. According to the note that would not be a good idea, since the FARC could win the war against Colombia.

The note criticizes the support of the government of the United Sates to Colombia and affirms that with it the conflict tends to remain more violent and last more. In relation to the drugs, the note affirms that the PT is emphatic in the combat against the drug traffic. Nevertheless it says that there are credit "contradictory informations" relating to the implication of the FARC with the drug traffic.

The PT refuses to classify the FARC as a terrorist organization. The party justifies the decision saying that it can act as mediator in the conflict, this way.

The FARC is member of Foro de São Paulo since 1990. According to the first forum final resolution, on July 4, 1990, the forum goal is "to improve proposals of united and consensual acctions[sic]".

Raul Reyes, FARC commander described part of the FARC relationship during an interview for the Brazilian newspaper Folha de São Paulo on August 24, 2003 [2]. In the interview he said that he knew the Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula for the first time in San Salvador during the Foro de São Paulo. The FARC commander affirms that the main contacts in Brazil are the ones in the Worker's Party (PT) and in the Landless Workers' Movement (MST). He says that FARC has contacts among intellectuals, Catholic priests, historians and journalists. Among them there are Carlos Alberto Libânio Christo or Frei Betto (former Lula advisor) and Emir Sader (writer). Also he says that the affirmation that the FARC produce cocaine is untrue.

The Brazilian drug dealer Luiz Fernando da Costa, also known as Fernandinho Beira-Mar, was arrested by Colombian army on April, 2001 in the city of Maramduba, in Colombia. With him there was also arrested the FARC leader, Acacio Medina, or Negro Acácio — O Estado de São Paulo, on April 21, 2001.

In Brasilia, Beira-Mar was interrogated by DEA agents. Beira-Mar talked about his liaisons with the Colombian guerrillas. The recording of this conversation was a key factor so the US government could request later the extradition of three other FARC guerrillas. Some details of this meeting were published by the Colombian magazine Cambio [3], [4].

According to Beira-Mar, he was buying 600 kilos of coca, per week, for two million pesos from peasants. He was paying to the FARC a million pesos for every processed kilo. He also said that he was giving weapons to the Colombian guerrillas.

FARC and ELN delegates act in schools, labour unions and Brazilian universities spreading ideas about the revolutionary movement. [5]

Some of these meetings are organized by left-wing groups. One of the most active of these groups is the "Permanent Committee of Solidarity with the People in Fight". The committee organized more than 40 lectures in São Paulo according to the President of the USP Workers Labour Union [6].

On August, 2001, representatives of the FARC, took part of a meeting with the members of the Socialistic Youth of PDT [7].

On March 20, 2002 in Ribeirão Preto, a pro-FARC committee was created by the secretary of sports at that time Leopoldo Paulino (PSB), during the government of Mayor Antônio Palocci Filho (PT). Palocci is the current Minister of the Finance [8], [9]

During a interview to the Brazilian television channel EPTV, yesterday, Leopoldo Paulino said that the comitte did not aim collect founds to the Colombian guerrilla. He said that the committee is of solidarity with Latin American people, engaged and militant. He said that he doesn't think that the FARC need any other extra financial support. Paulino said he has empathy by the guerrilla because they fight against the United States. He also said that he did not take part of the meeting described by the Brazilian magazine and that he don't know father Olivera Medina. [10]

On 2001, FARC commanders were received by the governor (at that time) of Rio Grande do Sul, Olivio Dutra (PT) [11], [12], [13]. FARC leaders were honored and acclaimed during the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre. Olívido Dutra is the current Minister of Cities. At that occasion, deputies of Rio Grande do Sul Congress protested against Olivio. [14]

Brazilian press

The Brazilian press already have published stories about the relationship between the FARC and the Workers' Party (PT). But, none of these previous stories was so emphatic as the recent one published by the magazine Veja, this week.

However the magazine Veja is cautious saying that although all the people and the dates cited by the Abin agents were correct "the magazine did not find solid evidences to proof that PT received money from the FARC".

In the story, the magazine did not detail the participation of the FARC on the Foro de São Paulo, neither its activities in Brazil.

FARC and PT have been in contact at least for about 12 years at least, since the FARC joined to the Foro de São Paulo in 1990. Foro de São Paulo was founded after the falling of Berlin wall by Brazilian Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and the Cuban President Fidel Castro.

America Libre is the name of a magazine published by some participants of the Foro de São Paulo. The America Libre magazine publishing conseaul is formed by PT members and other Brazilian personalities: Luis Eduardo Greenhalgh (PT), Fernando Morais, Emir Sader, Roberto Drummond, Gilberto Carvalho, Leonardo Boff, Rubens Paolucci Jr, João Pedro Stédile (MST leader), Chico Buarque de Hollanda (singer), etc. Also part of the publishing council is the FARC commander Manuel Marulanda Vélez (Tirofijo). [15]. The former-president of the publishing council was Carlos Alberto Libânio Christo, know as Frei Betto, former Lula's personal advisor and journalist.

Activities of the Foro de São Paulo usually are not not mentioned by Brazilian media. Even the story of magazine Veja this week didn't say the name Foro de São Paulo. Instead the magazine preferred to use "a debate with political parties and social organizations of Latin America and of Caribe to discuss the effects of the fall of the wall of Berlin." Rarely the name Foro de São Paulo is mentioned by Brazilian news agencies.

Some journalists already denied the existence of the Foro de São Paulo. Luiz Felipe de Alencastro already wrote articles for the magazine Veja. He is Brazilian History professor in the University of Paris. In October 30, 2002, during a talk for the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in Washington, a participant asked Alencastro about the Foro de São Paulo. Alencastro answered: "It's interesting. You'll see, because I live, I mean, I live now in France. I had been living in Brazil for 12 years. We never heard about this Foro de São Paulo in Brazil." [16]

Documents about the Foro de São Paulo can be find in left-wing party websites. [17], [18], [19]. PT talks about the Foro de São Paulo in its documents [20]. At the website of the Perseu Abramo Foundation, organization founded by PT, there is the speech of the President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva during the meeting of the Foro de São Paulo in Havana, Cuba. [21].

An article published in the Communist Party of Brazil (PCdoB) official webpage by the journalist and Vice-president of PCdoB José Reinaldo Carvalho called "São Paulo Forum - the convergence point of the Latin-American and Caribbean left" talks about the Foro. PCdoB is an ally and the party participates on the government [22].

In 2004, a group of journalist sent a proposal to the Brazilian president Lula asking for the creation of an inspector organism to control the conduct of the Brazilian press. This organ would have power, according to the proposal, to censure journalistic works considered inappropriate. Journalists could lost their professional licenses. [23], [24], [25], [26]. The proposal was considered too authoritarian by other journalists who protested against it emphatically. The law had no support for its creation, in spite of the pressure exercised by the government, and by some journalistic sectors supporting the proposal [27]. One of the critics against the proposal was that the journalists who supported the idea (and that would be the ones who would fiscalize the media) were members of PT or PCdoB.


Sources

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